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5 Minutes With … Indiegogo Canada Executive Ayah Norris

Indiegogo Canada executive offers a few tips on how to win at crowdfunding

Ayah Norris was working on a documentary series called The Insight Project in 2012 when she discovered crowdfunding. Finding micro-investors online proved essential to backing the series, which focused on people who broke out into new fields without necessarily going back to school.

“I really fell in love with the audience engagement aspect of it,” Norris says. One thing led to another, and the small irony is that Norris herself found a career change, and spent some time working directly in crowdfunding – she is just wrapping up a stint as director of film and creative for Indiegogo Canada, where growth has been 1,000% over the past three years.

Norris recently spoke with Billy, and here are her own words of advice for anyone who might be thinking about putting out the digital donations hat to fund future projects.

In the early days of crowdfunding, it really was just for people who couldn't get money anywhere else. The pitch was, ‘Please help me, this is my passion project and this is the only way to get it off the ground.’ It was a little bit more philanthropic – people saying, ‘Sure, I'll help you with your creative endeavour.’

Now we're seeing a lot more established producers and filmmakers and content creators. For them, it is primarily about audience engagement. It really is an audience builder. For the audience, it's been an amazing way to be a part of creating the stories and the cool new projects that they want to see in the world. They get this deep level of access to it. They get behind the scenes, getting to see the creative stage to release and beyond. That audience gets to feel a lot of ownership over (the project) as well.

Anything and everything you can think of can be crowdfunded. We just launched Indiegogo Life for personal causes – it could be family celebrations, health care costs, emergencies. We've had the first crowdfunded baby a few years ago. (The couple) were able to get in vitro and have the baby.

"Success attracts success and the crowd wants to do what the crowd is doing."

You obviously want a really strong and compelling pitch. The pitch these days is: ‘Here's what we're doing, here's why it's important to the world, here's why it's going to be amazing. We're doing it. We're doing this because we want you to join us. If you believe in this as much as we believe in it, come join the team.’ Have lots of cool perks people can't get anywhere else (such as) early access to things. People love to be the first on board.

The other thing that makes a successful campaign is your outreach plan: Having a really strong idea of who your audience is and how you're going to reach them. So, which bloggers are they following? Which influencers are they following? Which organizations are they part of? What conversations are they having on social media? A lot of the success relies on proper planning and preparation for that outreach. One of the big mistakes is a ‘build it and they will come’ mentality. A lot of people (create) a campaign and they launch it on Indiegogo and sit back and wait for it to blow up. There's no magic to going viral. It's really up to you.

Setting way too high of a goal, that's a really common pitfall. There's a lot that goes into setting a goal – what you're confident you can achieve. (Look) at similar projects.

We always recommend you have the first third of your goal committed from your inner circle, people who know and trust you, so you can build a momentum with your existing base before you reach out to new audience members. That tends to be the tipping point. Once you’re 30% funded, then strangers – people who are interested in the [subject] matter of your film, or of your campaign but don’t personally know the team – they’re much more likely to contribute. Success attracts success and the crowd wants to do what the crowd is doing. If someone comes to your page and sees that your campaign is only 3% funded, (they say), ‘Oh, this isn't going to be a success.’ They might never come back to your page, and they won't contribute.

I think there are still some people who roll their eyes and say, ‘I've heard it's so much work to do a campaign.’ I would be the first one to say: absolutely. It does take a lot of work. But it's what you have to do anyway. Whatever you have to do for the public release, you're doing it early on. It's marketing your product or your film, it's bringing your audience on board, it's building a lot of buzz, and people are actually paying you to participate in it.”

Published Thursday, October 1st 2015

Header image credit: Courtesy Ayah Norris



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